As the first Flyer regular to make it back from Europe to begin workouts at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., defenseman Robert Hagg knew there was going to be a price to pay.
The journey from Sweden meant he had to spend two weeks in quarantine at his Philadelphia apartment and while that had to be a bit annoying, it’s a sacrifice he was more than willing to make.
Come to think of it, if one had to come up with a perfect candidate to show patience, it might be the 25-year-old.
After all, from the time he was taken in the second round (41st overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Hagg has been caught in a waiting game.
It took him parts of four seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to finally make it to the NHL.
Then, after playing in all 82 games for the Flyers in the 2018-19 season, Hagg was forced to prove himself all over again this past campaign, sitting out as a healthy scratch 20 of the team’s 69 games in a case of “show me what you got’’ for new coach Alain Vigneault.
The important thing was Hagg played in every game of the Flyers’ late nine-game winning streak, logging more than 18 minutes in three of those matches.
Still, there’s no guarantee he’s going to begin the upcoming playoffs as a top six guy, not with a depth chart featuring Ivan Provorov, Matt Niskanen, Travis Sanheim, Phil Myers, Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Braun.
Oh well, it’s sort of like being quarantined from the action, so to speak. Hagg can handle it, just as he did getting over here a couple weeks ago.
“It (self-isolation for the pandemic) sucks but it’s something you have to do,’’ Hagg said during an interview with the Flyers’ public relations department on Friday. “But I followed all the rules, all the guidelines. I’ve done all the testing and everything has come back negative. So I’m happy to be back on the ice with the boys.’’
Hagg shouldn’t need too much work to get ready for the start of training camp on July 10. The Uppsala, Sweden native said he’s been able to skate on a fairly regular basis back there.
“I had it pretty good actually,’’ he said. “But it’s nice to be back and see everyone.’’
Even if Hagg doesn’t start the first game of the round-robin tournament, he’s a good insurance policy should there be any injuries. Most teams don’t have the kind of depth the Flyers enjoy on the back line.
Don’t forget, over the past two seasons, Hagg has been among the team leaders in both hits and blocked shots. In the 82-game season two years ago, he led the Flyers in total blocked shots (158) and was second in hits per game (3.2)
The round-robin test should give the Flyers a chance to regain some of the chemistry they exhibited during that nine-game streak.
“It (regaining previous form) is going to be hard but I think it’s the same for everyone, for every team,’’ Hagg said. “We had something going, hopefully it doesn’t take too long before we can like get back where we finished off. After we play a game or two I think we’ll find a way.’’
How teams adjust to living in a “bubble’’ – some for up to two months – could factor into the equation as well.
“Hopefully we can bring something good out of it,’’ Hagg said. “Maybe bring the team closer to each other. At the same time, everyone wants to keep everyone healthy and safe. If that’s what it takes, that’s what we’re going to have to do.’’